“It was strange, the idea that this book wasn’t just for him, it was for everyone. All these people who had taken it out before him, people who would take it out after him. They might have read it on a beach, on the train, on the bus, in the park, in their living room. On the toilet? He hoped not! Every reader, unknowingly connected in some small way. He was about to be a part of this too.”—Sara Nisha Adams, The Reading List.
Aleisha, a teenager working as a library clerk in Wembley, North London, stumbles upon a life-changing discovery—a list of eight classic novels titled “Just in case you need it,” beginning with To Kill a Mockingbird. This leads her to connect with Mukesh Patel, a lonely widower yearning to bond with his book-loving granddaughter. As Aleisha and Mukesh share the books, a beautiful connection forms, intertwining their lives with the stories they read.
Divided into sections based on each book, the novel delves into profound themes like mental illness, grief, abandonment, and self-doubt. It’s a poignant exploration of how literature can bridge the gap between people and offer solace in challenging times.
While the book starts strong, capturing the essence of its premise with warmth and depth, some readers may find that it loses momentum in the second half. Nevertheless, it’s a touching debut novel that showcases Sara Nisha Adams’ ability to craft heartfelt stories inspired by real-life connections.
This book is a nominee for the Goodreads Choice Award for Best Fiction (2021), and it’s clear why—it’s a story that celebrates the power of books to bring people together and provide comfort in times of need. Drawing from her own family history in Wembley, Adams infuses the novel with a personal touch that adds depth to the narrative. 3.5 stars rounded up to 4.
** Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for a review copy of this novel. The opinions are my own.